#bicycle-touring

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From the End of the Road to the Kyrgyz Silk Road

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From the End of the Road to the Kyrgyz Silk Road

Three years ago when I was tossing around the idea of a long-term bikepacking trip, I had two primary options on my mind. There was Peru and the Andes of South America, which I had a tiny bit of familiarity with given my short previous stint there, and then the wild card… Kyrgyzstan. A small former Soviet country dotted with lakes and covered in glaciated peaks as tall as 24,400 feet. With a rich nomadic history due to its place on the ancient Silk Road trading route that passed through from neighboring China, it makes for an ideal locale to load up your bike and get lost in the mountains. So even while I was still in Patagonia, I was scouring maps of Central Asia for the possibilities that awaited in the faraway lands of the Kyrgyz Republic.

“Is this your property?” Lessons Learned from Bikepacking the Wild West Route

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“Is this your property?” Lessons Learned from Bikepacking the Wild West Route

Today is a hot one in southern Idaho, 90 degrees and rising.  My partner, Skyler, and I are stopped for snacks under the few shaded bushes along a lonely dirt road.

We hear the tell-tale signs of a lonely car and a white-haired woman drive towards us.  She slows down to approach us cautiously. Her window rolls down as the car stops and from inside we hear “There isn’t a road that goes through there.”

The End of the Andean Road

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The End of the Andean Road

When I started this trip through South America almost 3 years ago I had no idea what to expect. My bicycle “touring” experience could all be summed up in a tumultuous three week trip to Perú where I spent half of the time with my head hovering over a toilet while suffering from typhoid and a quick one week trip through Norway that resulted in an emergency room visit with frostbite on my toes that still affects me today. I was working on roughly a 5% success rate. Would I quit my “stable job” of almost ten years only to head off into the Andes all by myself and realize that this just wasn’t my thing? Come crawling back a few weeks later, asking for a do-over? I honestly had no idea and these were extremely realistic possibilities in my mind. All I knew was that I’d regret it if I didn’t try.

The Salted, Green, Grassy Hills: a Bicycle Tour Into the Marin Headlands

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The Salted, Green, Grassy Hills: a Bicycle Tour Into the Marin Headlands

Long before July’s sweltering heat, we were enjoying the pleasant month of March. I had been sitting on my porch sipping coffee when my friend Todd texted me, “I’m going to email you about the thing, so look out.” We’ve collaborated on many wild ideas, and Todd’s been a good friend for over a decade. I usually perk up when he reaches out about “things” because he’s a great adventure planner, so I kept a close eye on the inbox.  Lucky for me, it was an email saying that all the plans were coming together for an idea we had been tossing around for quite a while; a multi-day bike camping trip to uncover the inspiration for the Coal x Swift collaboration project with artist and illustrator, Chris McNally in the Marin Headlands of California.

California Golde: An Analog Bicycle Tour on Kodak 35mm and 120 film

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California Golde: An Analog Bicycle Tour on Kodak 35mm and 120 film

One year and a week ago, a vehicle’s faulty catalytic converter ignited roadside vegetation igniting a blaze that would consume 96,901 acres of Sierra and Sequoia National Forest, eventually closing Yosemite for the first time in the National Park’s history. This was the first “big” fire of the indomitable 2018 fire season that torched the Western U.S. and serving as an unwelcome backdrop to this 12-minute major motion picture.

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Drawn Away

After last year’s Solstice snow fest, the Coal Headwear and Swift Industries crew decided it was time for a redux, prompting them to take to the Bay Area’s rolling hills and coastal vistas:

“When illustrator Chris McNally invited us on a bicycle adventure through his expansive Northern California backyard, we knew we were in for a wild ride. Starting and ending at his Mission District studio, Chris would lead us on an epic 4-day tour of the SF and Marin County landmarks and landscapes that have inspired his work, and also inspired two great Seattle adventure brands—Coal Headwear and Swift Industries—to create “The Headlands Collection”.

“Drawn Away” is a story about creating close-to-home adventures with the freedom that bikes offer; about uncovering the hidden treasures and secret spots at the interface of the built and natural environments, where urban bleeds into rural, and rural into wilderness; about slowing the pace and making space for inspiration and creativity; and about the importance of building community one pedal stroke—and one brush stroke—at a time!”

Get Pumped for the 2019 Swift Campout!

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Get Pumped for the 2019 Swift Campout!

It’s coming! June 22nd is rapidly approaching. Do you know where you’re going for the 2019 Swift Campout? Head to Swift Industries to see who is hosting a Summer Solstice Campout in your city. We’ll be in Bozeman with Alter Cycles and Sklar Bikes. We’ll be doing around 20 miles of dirt road climbing up to Mystic Lake to camp under the Big Sky!

Share your local ride details in the comments and check out some inspirational photos below!

Fast Friends: Big Thoughts Through Big Sur

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Fast Friends: Big Thoughts Through Big Sur

Words by Tenzin Namdol, photos by Ronnie Romance

I was looking at everyone’s legs. The group of 13 included professional and semi professional racers, life-long athletes focused specifically on their relationship to the bicycle. There aren’t six packs; there’s, like, eight to ten pacs. Some even have muscular faces! How is that even possible to accomplish? Seeing my own soft animal body as lesser than their impressive builds. The grass kept getting greener and greener on the other side of my eyeballs and I felt myself getting smaller and smaller. Where in my body is this discomfort living? I had three days and the grand views around beautiful Big Sur to find the site of where this discomfort lived in my body. Aside from physical discomfort from physical exertion, I came up empty. Instead, I found an interstice where feelings of awe grew and that became my saving grace.

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Ride To Extraordinary: a Bikepacking TV Show

More of this please! High production value, great scenery and interesting story.

“Ride To Extraordinary is a new on-demand documentary series. Season #1 focuses on the TNGA (The Trans North Georgia Adventure). TNGA is more than a bikepacking race. It’s a test of will and endurance. It’s 357 miles filled with more than 50,000 feet of grueling climbs, wicked downhills, river crossings, hike-a-bikes, wild bears, boars, snakes – all in the blistering heat and unrelenting humidity of a Georgia summer. What makes someone do this? Ride along as bikers push past their own limits and face the darkest nights of their souls in the quest to go from Ordinary to Extraordinary. Season #1 kicked off April 30th with Episode #1, with new episodes and content available weekly on Tuesdays until completion of the series in July.”

Check out the full season at Vimeo.

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Two Days of Cold Toes

The annual 2 Days of Cold Toes is a ride from Laporte, Colorado, up the Poudre Canyon, for an overnight campout next to the Poudre River. The riders stayed warm next to the fire as evening temps bottomed out at 10˚. The 2 Days of Cold Toes is one ride of many in the Winter Ralleye Series. In its 16th year, the WRS serves riders in Northern Colorado, and beyond, with a reason to brave the winter by bike with a group of friends. Thanks to @cyclingforlongevity for sharing!

Dispatch From the Badlands – Carmen Aiken

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Dispatch From the Badlands – Carmen Aiken

Dispatch From the Badlands
Photos and words by Carmen Aiken

On the dotted line to Sheep Mountain Table, I suddenly brake. Something tilts in my nervous system, tugs. The summer’s off-pavement riding has me forgetting the sweetness of an emptiness’s quiet when your contraption and all the nonsense it carries is, for a moment, still. What do you matter? The rocks rest as they wont to do, I suppose, the world ticks to its own endless motion, even as it’s stupidly being timed and quantified on devices it doesn’t give a shit about.

Down by the River with Golden Saddle Cyclery and the Swift Campout – Kyle Kelley

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Down by the River with Golden Saddle Cyclery and the Swift Campout – Kyle Kelley

Down by the River with Golden Saddle Cyclery and the Swift Campout
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley

We wanted to do something very different for this year’s Swift Campout. For the last three years, we’ve been dragging people up the steepest fire roads in the Angeles Forest on their fully-loaded touring bikes, carrying gallons of water. With each year getting hotter and hotter, we wanted to find water for people to cool down in. At first, we thought the beach, but after looking into it, we discovered that we’d have better odds of winning the lottery than getting a camping spot for 30 plus people at the beach.